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Spokane Jewish Film Festival opens Saturday

The Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival has become an annual tradition in the area.

Larry Weiser, a Gonzaga University law school prof, has been organizing this for several years. This year he assembled three films for screening at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC), 2316 W. First.

Here's the lineup:

 “Saviors in the Night” — Saturday, 7:30 p.m.. The story of courageous Catholic farmers who hid Marga Spiegel and her family from the Nazis.:

“Black Over White” and “These Are My Names”– Sunday, 2 p.m. The first is a documentary about the popular Israeli music group, the Idan Raichel Project, and their tour of Ethiopia. Music takes the center stage, but there are also revealing scenes about identity and heritage amongst the musicians. The second is a short film about Ethiopian Jews.

“Seven Minutes in Eden” – Monday, 7:30 p.m. The story of a young couple on a bus, bombed by terrorists. The young woman attempts to stitch her life back together.

Tickets are $8, available at the door or at this site.

‘Thunderballs,’ filmed in Spokane

North by Northwest has just signed a contract to film, “Thunderballs, ” a sitcom pilot, for the cable TV channel Spike.

It’s about three 30-something guys on a beer league bowling team. As North by Northwest’s Rich Cowan points out, “Spokane should be a good city for that.”

The pilot will be filmed in May and if it gets picked up by Spike network, the entire series will be filmed here.

Will it have stars? Casting is still under discussion, but Cowan predicts it will have some “recognizable” names. It will probably use some local actors and extras as well.

North by Northwest, a Spokane production company, has filmed dozens of movies, but this will be the company's first foray into television.

Spokane’s new 50 Hour Slam film contest

A new instant-film competition has been announced in Spokane: The 50 Hour Slam.

It’s a bit like the popular 48 Hour Film Festival, except … well, you’ll have two extra hours to complete your three-to-six minute film.

Actually, there are plenty of other differences. This contest will have a TV component – the entries will air on CMTV (Community Minded TV, channel 14) for a month. It will also have a considerable web component, with entries available for viewing in a four-month long “viral” contest, with online voting.

Also, CMTV will host a workshop a few weeks prior to the events, covering the technical aspects of filmmaking.

The organizers include: FAVES (Film and Video Enthusiasts of Spokane), Purple Crayon Pictures, CMTV, The Magic Lantern, CORPX and Isabella’s Restaurant. Juan A. Mas, known for his extensive work on many North by Northwest productions, is one of the event’s guiding forces.

Here are the key dates:

Tuesday, 7 p.m. at the Magic Lantern, 25 W. Main – A general meeting outlining the rules. Not mandatory, but highly recommended.

April 1, 7 p.m. at the Magic Lantern – Kick-off event in which the festival criteria are announced and the competition begins.

April 3, 9 p.m., at the Magic Lantern lobby – End of the 50 hours.

May 1, various times, Magic Lantern – Movie screenings and awards party.

Continue reading to see the complete news release: 

The Golden SpIFFY Awards

Congratulations to the winners of the 2011 Spokane International Film Festival (SpIFF) top awards, which they call the Golden SpIFFys:

Best Feature Film: “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil,” director Eli Craig.

Best Documentary: “An Ecology of Mind,” director Nora Bateson.

Best Short Film: “The Fall Line,” director Tyler Stableford.

Best Animation: “The Lost Thing,” director Shaun Tan, Andrew Ruhemann.

Best of the Northwest: “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil,” director Eli Craig.

Audience Award, Feature: “The Waste Land,” directors Lucy Walker, Karen Harley, Joao Jardim.

Audience Award, Short: “The Big Sayonara,” Don Hamilton.

Most Promising Filmmaker: Adam Harum, “Disintegration” and Sara McIntyre, “Two Indians Talking.”

A CDA Oscar nominee

Michael Owens, who now lives in Coeur d'Alene, is an Oscar nominee for Best Achievement in Visual Effects for his work on the movie “Hereafter.”

Owens is the real deal: He was a longtime visual effects supervisor for George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic. He got his start as a camera assistant on “ET: The Extra-Terrestrial” and as a visual effects cameraman on films such as “Star Wars VI, Return of the Jedi” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”

Then he went on to be visual effects supervisor on dozens of big movies, including “The Witches of Eastwick,” “The Doors,” “Van Helsing,” “Meet Joe Black,” “Gangs of New York,” “Flags of Our Fathers,” “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Gran Torino,” and “Invictus.”

“Hereafter” is the Matt Damon movie directed Clint Eastwood, a director Owens evidently has a certain affinity with, since he has worked with Eastwood so many times.

Owens shares the nomination with others on the “Hereafter” special effects team, Bryan Gill, Stephen Trojansky and Joe Farrell.

Owens likes to keep a low profile in CDA. He declined our request for an interview, which I find, in a way, refreshing. He's apparently a Hollywood type who is not an attention-hog.

But I wanted to let people in CDA, Spokane and vicinity know that we can root for a local name on Oscar night, Feb. 27.

“A River Sorrow” trailer


The people at Spokane’s film production company, North by Northwest, are particularly high on their new thriller “The River Sorrow.” It was filmed this fall in Spokane with Ray Liotta, Christian Slater, Ving Rhames and Gisele Fraga.

NXNW’s own Rich Cowan was the director.  It has already been picked up by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions — which already catapults it beyond the average Spokane-filmd movie — and Cowan plans on taking it to the Cannes Film Festival this spring.

Now, the trailer for “The River Sorrow” is out and, yes, it certainly does make the movie look stylish, moody, chilling and decidely R-rated. It’s about a string of sexual murders with one common thread – all of the victims are former girlfriends of the detective played by Liotta.

You'll also catch glimpses of several Spokane locations, including Riverfront Park and the Agave Latin Bistro downtown.

See the trailer for yourself here and let us know what you think of “The River Sorrow.”

Top 5 best and worst movies of 2010

Rooney Mara and Jesse Eisenberg star in “The Social Network.”

DENVER, Colo. — It was the best of movies, it was the worst of movies, and Movies in Toto is here to tally both lists for your consideration. The good news is three of the following five films are already available on Blu-ray and DVD. But so are all five of the clunkers listed below.

Toto lists the best as:

  • The Social Network
  • The Town
  • The Kids are alright
  • The Fighter
  • Toy Story 3

The worst:

  • The Last Airbender
  • Cop Out
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • I'm Still Here
  • Survival of the Dead

I've seen only one of the top 5 and none of the worst. How about you?

Voyaging to Narnia

Will Poulter, right, and Reepicheep the warrior mouse  in a scene from “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

I'm a big C.S. Lewis fan and am looking forward to seeing this movie tonight with my family. If you've already seen it and hate it, don't tell me! Movies can never really capture the essense of a book, just like books can never have the sensory appeal of movies.

What's your favorite movie that was based on a book?

Thursday morning news

Just a quick update from the neighborhood: the construction on Perry is over, but Ninth Avenue is still closed, so don’t come up Altamont on your way to the Perry District.

Today is Farmers’ Market day - expect lots of fresh fruits and veggies from local farmers, as well as breads, honey, meats and crafts. The market runs from 3-7 p.m. in the parking lot at The Shop, 924 S. Perry Street.

Saturday’s movie is 1963’s “The Great Escape” with Steve McQueen - it’s shown at dusk, bring your own chairs and maybe a picnic?

The South Perry Blog is talking to a couple of neighbors who soon will begin contributing directly to the blog - drop me a note at piah@spokesman.com if you are interested in holding a key to the blog.

Saturday night is movie night

If you haven’t been to an outdoor movie at The Shop yet this year, stop by on Saturday for “Stand By Me” from 1986. On Aug. 14 you can watch “The Great Escape” (1963) and on Aug. 21 it’s “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) followed by 1980’s “Superman” on Aug. 28.

The movies are free and they are shown on the side of the old Altamont Pharmacy building. Bring your own chairs (couches have been spotted…) and enjoy a night outside watching a great flick. Movies begin at dusk.

High Noon: 10 movies you’ll force your kids to see

Let’s face it – when you have kids, they’re not going to want to watch the movies that you’ll want to watch. When they’re old enough to develop their own tastes, they’re going to automatically assume that anything that’s older than they are is crappy. Well, too bad for them. You’re the adult, so you get to decide what they watch. The following selections are ten films that you’ll one day force your kids to watch that you’ll love and they’ll love – whether they want to admit it or not! Full list.

Among those included: E.T., The Nightmare Before Christmas, Princess Mononoke and Gremlins.

What movies would you add to this list?

Summer movies coming up

A blog reader wanted to know if there’s an outdoor movie at The Shop tomorrow night? There’s not - the summer movies start on July 24 with Time Bandits (1981). Here’s the rest of the schedule:

July 31, Wayne’s World (1992)

August 7, Stand by Me (1986)

August 14, The Great Escape (1963)

August 21, The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

August 28, Superman (1978)

Movies start at dusk - please bring your own chairs. The movies are free and projected on the north side of the Altamont Pharmacy building.

South Perry Summer Theater opening night July 24

The outdoor movies at The Shop - also known as The South Perry Summer Theater - begin on Saturday July 24 with Time Bandits (1981) and continue the following Saturdays with:

July 31: Wayne’s World (1992)

August 7: Stand by Me (1986)

August 14: The Great Escape (1963)

August 21: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

August 28: Superman (1978)

All movies are free and start at dusk. Bring your own chairs. The Shop, 924 S. Perry, will be open for your snacking needs.

Movies, Popcorn and Financial advice from the Fed

“Talk about a buzzkill: next time you go to the movies, it’s likely that the U.S. government will lecture you about how to handle your credit cards. I’m not kidding. The Federal Reserve announced it is sponsoring 45-second advertisements in movie theaters with tips to help shoppers avoid unnecessary credit card charges and fees.” Full story.

Am I the only one who finds this ironic?

The 10 Worst Unexpected Sequels of All Time

10) The Odd Couple II

9) The Sting I2

8) The Rage: Carrie 2

7) Pyscho II

6) City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold (what the heck?)

5) Caddyshack II

4) Basic Instinct I2

3) Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (really?)

2) Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (didn’t the ship sink?)

1) Highlander II:The Quickening

Read more here: http://www.movieretriever.com/blog/495/they-made-a-part-two-to-what—the-ten-worst-unexpected-sequels-of-all-time

Got anything you’d like to see on the list?

 

Terminate This

I’m a big fan of the original Terminator movie, the others not so much. Do we really need a fourth? How many of you are planning to see it?

Encore for 17 Again

Just imagine what would happen if your dad returned to age seventeen and attended your high school for a week.  Just imagine if he guided you through an unexpected breakup.  Just imagine if he gave you the courage to stand up for yourself, your dreams, and your ideas.  Just imagine if 17 Again were playing in a theater near you.

Matthew Perry and Zac Efron play Mike, a middle-aged man whose hectic life and ongoing divorce troubles have him wishing for the “good ol’ days” of his senior year in high school, when he was the basketball team’s leading star with the brightest future ahead of him.  His skills in basketball attracted several colleges’ attention, but he threw away that dream in order to marry his high school sweetheart Scarlet.  …So when Mike wakes up to find himself at age seventeen once again, will he make the same decision?

Mike goes back to high school with his daughter and his son, ”undercover” as their long-lost cousin.  He realizes how detached he has become from his kids as he watches his teen daughter (played by Michelle Trachtenburg) throw away her future for her psychotic jock boyfriend and his son get tormented day in and day out by the same basketball team Mike himself was once apart of.  But can he measure up to be who his kids need?  Will his detachment from them as a father impair his ability to connect with them as a fellow teenager?  And will Scarlet, his almost ex-wife, give Mike the second chance that fate granted him?

17 Again is the fun-loving, spirited, and original family comedy everyone has been waiting for.  Its star cast truly delivers in this sensational film about life, love, family, growing up, and appreciating life’s simply breathtaking moments.

‘Slumdog’ Rules the Oscars

Item: ‘Slumdog millionaire rules the Oscars with 8 prizes/AP

More Info: “Slumdog Millionaire” took the best-picture Academy Award and seven other Oscars on Sunday, including director for Danny Boyle, whose ghetto-to-glory story paralleled the film’s unlikely rise to Hollywood’s summit. The other top winners: Kate Winslet, best actress for the Holocaust-themed drama “The Reader”; Sean Penn, best actor for the title role of “Milk”; Heath Ledger, supporting actor for “The Dark Knight”; and Penelope Cruz, supporting actress for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” A story of hope amid squalor in Mumbai, India, “Slumdog Millionaire” came in with 10 nominations, its eight wins including adapted screenplay, cinematography, editing and both music Oscars (score and song).

Question: Have you seen “Slumdog Millionaire”? If so, do you think it was worthy of the Oscar for 2008 best motion picture?

Does Hollywood Ruin Novels?

It’s an often-heard complaint after the release of the newest book-to-film movie; Why does that suck? In our society, it seems to be a given that the book will always be better than it’s movie adaption.

What’s going on with this translation from the pages to the silver screen?  Willing Davidson, author of Great Book, Bad Movie, says it’s all a matter of time.

“The answer is simple, but it has complex implications: Novels are long, but movies are short,” he says.  A wide range of movies suffer from this limitation, Davidson listing those such as Harry Potter, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Da Vinci Code as examples.

Davidson notes that time isn’t the only issue, we’re also left with that one main character that’s always in need of some lovin’. “The movie replaces character with plot, and the result lands with a wet flop,” he notes. The movie adaption often revolves around the breakthrough plot points, moving our focus onto the surroundings and away from the complexities of the characters.

What’s YOUR favorite book-to-film movie? Did the film do the original work justice? Do most movies based on books indeed suck?

Mall Cop: Cute or Corny?

Two movie tickets and plenty of laughs later, I still can’t figure out why someone wouldn’t enjoy Paul Blart: Mall Cop!  I watched this film at the theaters twice: once with “the guys” and once with “the girls.”

I loved the original plot; Paul Blart is a security guard/officer (“big controversy—sure you’ve heard of it…oh, well—you will!”) at a huge metropolitan mall, and the holidays have struck.  Black Friday is peeking out around the corner with its knack for trouble.

The biggest shopping day of the year maintains its mischievous reputation when Blart and the rest of the security department are betrayed by one of their own.  Hostages are taken, threats are made, money is transferred, and a McDonald’s Happy Meal is requested (you had betta believe it). 

Does one man have the power to rescue the people he swore to protect?  Does that same man have the ability to defend his mall from invaders with Santa’s Reindeer’s names? 

Blart leads the life of a hopeless romantic who has filled this void with sweets, sweets, sweets, and his commitment to his mall.  He reluctantly agrees to begin dating again when his daughter and his mother remind him of a promise he made to himself a year ago.  Paul falls head over heels for Amy, a small business owner in the mall.  This romantic “spark” first inspires Blart to take on the criminals himself when he recognizes that Amy is one of the hostages.

So here are my questions.  What do you think of the film?  Have you seen it?  Did you find it cute or corny?  Why or why not? 

 

Here Comes the Bride…War?

My mom, my sister, and I went to see Bride Wars yesterday at the theaters, and the cute comedy totally lived up to its hilarious “preview reputation.” 

The two main characters, Liv and Emma, have been best friends ever since childhood, when the pair began to plan their dream weddings at the Plaza Hotel.  Little did they know how their weddings would actually turn out…

Years later, the women get engaged within a week of each other, and the wedding mania begins.  Marion Saint Claire, the legendary wedding planner, appears promising.  However, the two weddings are booked on the same day at the girls’ dream venue: the Plaza Hotel.

An insane, funny, and out of control fight breaks out between the brides as each attempts to sabotage the other’s big day.

Who will win?  Does one cave in before the other?  Can the lifelong friendship be salvaged?

Check out this great movie in a theater near you soon!   

‘Bride Wars’ Has One Good Line

This cliched comedy “Bride Wars” tosses out stereotypes about female materialism and cattiness with all the giddy gusto of a newly married woman flinging the bouquet at her single girlfriends. It’s amazing that two of the film’s three writers are women: Casey Wilson of “Saturday Night Live” and June Diane Raphael (the third, Greg DePaul, also gets a story-by credit). But what’s just as baffling is the way in which director Gary Winick – who brought the radiant best out of Jennifer Garner in the 2004 charmer “13 Going on 30” – manages to squander the appealing screen presence of Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway/AP. More here.

Question: What’s the last “chick flick” that you’ve seen?

Wilson: ‘Prom Night’ 08’s Worst

If you take away the Slumdogs and Benjamin Buttons of December, movies in 2008 were satisfactory at best. The predictably dreary early months (“Jumper,” “Untraceable”) gave way to a rocky summer (“Dark Knight” yes, “Hancock” no), and even the big fall blockbusters disappointed (“Twilight,” “Quantum of Solace”). Although I managed to avoid many of this year’s easy targets (“Meet the Spartans,” “Meet Dave”), the following list represents the dark side of Hollywood — the place where dreams die and moviegoers are pelted repeatedly between the legs/Tyler Wilson, CDA Press. More here.

Question: Which movie do you consider to be the worst of 2008?

Not All Brides Are @ War

 In this image released by Twentieth Century Fox, Kate Hudson, left, and Anne Hathaway are shown in a scene from “Bride Wars.” (AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox, Claire Folger)

Question (for women): Do you still have your wedding dress? Why? Why not?